Hayim Leiter
Mohel, Activist, and Educator

The most important bris of my career

“This is the most important bris of your career” remarked my sister just before I performed her son’s brit milah three weeks ago. I retorted, “It’s the third most important one of my career.”  You see, I was the mohel for my two sons before this. But all of this was in jest because every parent feels this way at his or her child’s event.

As it turned out, my nephew’s bris was truly special because it was a double simcha. Due to the craziness of a first birth and the scheduling hassles of bringing an entire family together (since some of us live on a different continent), my niece, who is now three, had not yet had a naming ceremony. So, we did both that day.

And if I can toot my own horn a bit, it was a beautiful simcha. There truly is nothing like a Philadelphia winter for a happy occasion. As we all know, it’s not really the surroundings that make an event like this special, it’s the people. And since almost all of the family was together, it truly was beautiful. As my mother always says, the only thing missing was the Israel contingent who couldn’t make it.

This was the first time I’ve ever travelled with only one of my children. My eldest daughter and I made the trek together, unfortunately, having to leave my wife and three other kids at home in Jerusalem. In my defense, my wife was on Facetime, and you can actually see her in the picture (above). But it would have been that much better had they been there.

However, my sister was correct, my nephew’s bris was the most important bris of my career, that is, until the next one came along. Every brit milah I do is not just monumental for the parents, it is for me as well.

I treat every brit milah the same way, like it’s the most important of my career. Each bris I am honored with carries that level of responsibility in my eyes. I am often asked if I’m nervous when performing Britot and I always answer the same way– absolutely. There must be some level of anxiety when undertaking such a gravitas endeavour. But it is not a crippling fear but rather a level of concern which allows me to be 100% on my game. It allows me to react appropriately in each new situation. The result of this level of focus is that there is no circumcision I walk away from where I haven’t learned something to take my craft to the next level.

So my sister was spot on. My nephew’s bris was the most important of my career. But it was not the ‘only’ most important bris of my career. And all of the britot since and all which are still yet to come will also be the most important of my career. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

About the Author
Hayim Leiter is a Rav and a Mohel in Israel , as well as an activist, and a Jewish Educator. He founded Safer HaBrit, an organization committed to protecting both our sacred ceremony of Brit Milah and the children who undergo it. He made Aliyah in 2009 and lives in Jerusalem with his wife and children.
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